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Two and Fro

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Well howdy, everyone!  Brace yourself for a doozy of a post, a’ight?  First of all, remember when I posted last time that I’d been sick?  Well, if two doctor’s were correct in their diagnosis’, I had come down with the only disease you can get on this island, a mosquito-carried virus called Dengue Fever.  To give you a hint as to its severity, it is called “The Bonecrusher” and “Bonebreakers Disease” in Spanish.  I was blessed enough to only have a mild version, which excluded the body rash and hemorrhaging, but thankfully still included the insane body/joint pain, fever, vomiting, headache, and explosive diarrhea. (Can’t get enough of the la duze [Chinese for explosive diarrhea])

For the first 5 days of the visiting mission trip, I would show up at some point during the day, try to wave hello, make sure they were doing alright, and then allow the taxi driver to drag me by my ankle back into the car and to our front doorstep, where I would lie until the ants took over and brought me inside. (Probably because they didn’t care for my donation of la duze)  However, after 5 days of absolutely no food, I was back to my target weight and was able to cease participation in the Dengue Diet, as I’ve termed it.  Even though it was over three weeks ago, I am STILL getting the comments from people who I haven’t seen: “Dang, man, what happened to you? You lost a bunch of weight!”  This brings up all kinds of questions in my head like, “Wow, youngsters are pretty forward these days” and “Sheesh, what did I look like before to make everyone comment?” and “Am I just eating because I’m bored?”  Needless to say, the Dengue has passed (pun) and I’m back to my “normal” self. (For more on the thrills of Dengue Fever, click HERE)

Anyway, things were plugging along quite normally for us until last Monday. Then it happened.  Well, wait, let me pull a Quentin Tarentino on you and give you the ending first:  WE’RE ADOPTING AT LEAST ONE CHILD FROM DOMINICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Does the title make fun sense, now?)

There, now that that’s out of the way, we can start at the very beginning (yes, a very good place to start).  I’ll start by allowing Jacelyn to speak:

Hi, everyone!  I wanted to share with you a super-brief history of how God has placed adoption in our hearts.  For me, the desire to adopt began in high school when I heard a woman speak about her work with street children in Romania.  Over the years, that desire has simply never died.  While Nic and I were still dating, but beginning to talk of our future, we agreed that we would love to adopt internationally.  We had an “ah-ha” moment when we realized the very simple truth that right at this moment, all over the world, there are innumerable children who need a home, and a family, and need people to open their hearts to them.  Even after getting married, and developing the natural, maternal desire to have biological children, the calling to adopt has remained as strong as ever.  God has helped me see that just as he builds families naturally, he can also place us together as families through adoption.  He will masterfully build our family just as beautifully as any other!  By no means is adoption a second-best option or a last-resort.  It’s an incredible opportunity to share God’s love and the love of a family with a child who would otherwise go without.  Lastly, I have to mention that while we have long hoped that by adopting we would be a blessing to others, God has already used it to graciously bless us; He has used this calling to ease the struggle that Nic and I have had to face with our fertility difficulties.  Now, as we are finally embarking on this journey that has been in our hearts for so long, the blessings simply continue.  (Wow–God sure has an amazing way of doing that!)  

So, though this is the Dynamic Davidson Duo’s Dominica Blog, we are going to embark on the journey of the adoption process with you, both so that you’ll know what’s up with us AND so that you’ll see that adoption is attainable (in case you’re interested in following suit).  Even thus far, it has been a winding and long road, so, it will take a couple of posts to get ya’ll up to speed.  So, let’s start with how we started.

About a month after moving to Dom, without even talking about it with each other, we both started to feel like it was “just time” to start the adoption process in some way.  After realizing that the timing was right, it became completely clear to us that spending 16 months on an island just might afford us the time to process an adoption here on-island.  So, one of our first steps was to google “adoption on Dominica”, which lead us to locate a lawyer on the island who would help with the process.  We found one guy, called him up, scheduled a consult, got excited, showed up, and, after quoting rates, he asked us if we had a child “picked out”.  We found that to be hilarious.  I was tempted to say, “Actually, yeah, on the way here, I saw this kid on the street and he had an amazing fro, so, how ’bout him?”  I didn’t say that, and he proceeded to tell us that we had to contact him when we found a child.

So, we walked away bewildered.  (The fro kid was gone, so we truly were up a creek)  We then began to just tell every local we met that we were interested in adopting from the island and to get a hold of us if they knew of anything.(Luckily, I had done a sketch of the fro kid, just in case we could locate him)  We’d always talked about wanting to adopt siblings who were a bit older, since that is the demographic that is far less likely to get adopted; so we specified that and just waited.  Over the months, there were a couple of “possibilities” that faded before we could even make contact.

In fact, several people gave us phone numbers for people around Dominica, but they kept not being who we actually needed.  At one point, we found a great adoption agency, but they couldn’t work with people who live outside of the US … so we went back to the drawing board (Fro Kid pun) with that.  Then, a random person (so random that I truly can’t remember who gave me the number) gave us the number of the Social Services worker in Dominica that we actually needed.  She told us how to proceed–and we did indeed have to find an adoption agency who could legitimize the process on the US end.  So–we began searching again.  And we found her!

At the same time as putting the word out on the island, we contacted some friends of ours from China who’d adopted three children in the past to ask them their advice and thoughts.  They were INCREDIBLY helpful and put us on the right track to taking care of the U.S. side of adopting internationally. (Thank you SO much, Josh and Renee!)  So, after MUCH perusing of the internet and contacting international adoption agencies, we made a great connection with Adopt Abroad, who specialize in helping people who live outside of the U.S. adopt children internationally.  Though they have certain countries that they specifically work with, they will also help you adopt from the nation of your choice.

One of the more difficult and time consuming aspects to adopting while living outside of The States is that U.S. Immigration requires you to have a U.S. homestudy done by a licensed social worker.  This can be tough, especially in a country like Dominica.  Wonderfully, Adopt Abroad has compassionate, caring, and capable social workers who will gladly hop a plane and come to your humble abode, even to Pineapple Manor! (Our  appointment is on August 9!)  So, between September of 2011 and two weeks ago, we’ve just been quietly, persistently putting the word out, filling out papers, praying, and buying painting supplies, in case we find Fro Kid.

Anyway, things were plugging along quite normally for us until last Monday. Then it happened.  I walked into a coffee stall owned by a local woman and, as soon as I walked through the door, she said, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??????”

Tune in next time!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next weave…

I Got A Fever!

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Hey, everyone!  Okay, so I’ve been sick since yesterday, puking, fever, aches, sweats, chills, pink elephants, and there’s a mission trip arriving from Ely, MN at 2:30.  With that in mind, here’re a few pics.  This is where I try to do my curriculum writing when I can.

 

This is a locally-made drink called Cocoa-Tea, which is cocoa mixed with some spices and formed in to blocks, which you drop into boiling water, burning your hand in the process.

This is Jacelyn’s crazy Wall of Tests, as I call it.  It’s a documentation of what tests to do in certain situations and then what to do next, given the outcome of the first test.

This is the pineapple outside of Pineapple Manor.

This is an interesting flower that is growing out front.

This is me, signing off.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for me, dangit!

On to the next thing…

 

Beaches, Barrels, and Factor B

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Hey, there, Strangers!  I know it’s been a while, but believe me, there’s been good cause, and I’m about to give you every detail from the last 4 weeks.  I’ll start with every single toilet experience.  Well, maybe I’ll “hold off” on those stories until you’ve heard the less interesting anecdotes.  You gotta “let it build”, ya know. (wink)

To start with, we moved to a new location!  We loved our old apartment and our location, but, for various reasons, we decided to relocate.  A wonderful lady in our church, Fredricka, just happened to have an opening in the house above her, so we jumped at the chance.  Not only did we gain a bath tub, but also a separate work space.  In our first apartment, we’d kind of converted the back room into the bathroom/office/dining room/sleeping quarters/recording studio.  Here at Pineapple Manor (our title, not the locals’), each of those categories has its own space. (Except the studio, of course)(Where do you think we live–Jamaica?)  We’ve given our residence that name because of the small, picturesque pineapple that is growing just outside of the frame in this picture of our front door:

And remember this?  Well, now we have this:

That’s right, we have a peach patio!!!  So, I can grab my Wonder Wash, head out the patio, and allow the peach to distract me from my work as I place the washer upon the…………OMGoodness!…………….we have a WASHING MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Why did I not notice that until right this moment?  I feel so silly about having been excited about the peach walls.

In one of our first posts, we mentioned that we shipped all of our belongings to Dom in 55-gallon barrels.  While moving to this new place, we found that you can get a lot more into barrels when you are specifically packing to move to a different nation than when you are hurriedly throwing everything into them to re-locate to 5 minutes away.  We ended up making two trips with Kenny’s van crammed to the ceiling and one barrel filled, emptied, then refilled on the second trip.  As you probably know, when moving, you can misplace things if you’re not careful.  Imagine our surprise when we got to the bottom of one of the barrels and found:

(You can see that he also found the red contacts we’d gotten him for Halloween when he went trick-or-treating as Edward Cullen.)

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR RESIDENT DOCTOR:

The people who discovered, and then got to name, the various components of the immune system decided it would be “easier” to just label everything with letters and numbers rather than actual names.  So, for the lucky ones of us who get to learn about the immune system, here’s a sample of the kind of things we get to learn.  It sounds so ridiculous when you start saying all these things in repetition!  Our teacher even noted that this following discussion was his favorite part of the lecture.  Even though it won’t make such sense, just read through it to catch the absurdity!

 When a substance called C3 comes in contact with a bug in your body that shouldn’t be there, the surface of that bug splits C3 into C3a and C3b.  C3b remains attached to the surface.  Factor B comes along and splits C3b into C3bA and C3bB.  C3bB again stays attached to the bug surface.  Then Factor D enters the picture; this substance splits C3bB into C3bBa and C3bBb.  Oh yes–and it gets a little better.  C3bBb is a C3 convertase, meaning it can also split C3 into C3a and C3b.  C3b joins C3bBb to make none other than C3bBbC3b!  Fortunately that particular compound doesn’t continue to get bigger!

Jacelyn is beginning her second week of her THIRD SEMESTER of med school and we’re finding that each consecutive semester gives her new ways to sound brilliant.  Yes, indeed, she made it to what is considered her second year of med school!  During the break between semesters, we were amazed to find $40 tickets to Barbados, so we hopped over, skipped to our cheapo hotel (with kitchen to keep food costs down), and jumped into the ocean.  We literally did nothing.  We read about 5 books each and we watched old black-n-white movies on the computer at night.  I think it was the first time I’d ever seen Jacelyn be so tired that she was capable of just sitting for days on end.  We took very few pictures while we were there, mainly because that would require effort, but also because there wasn’t much besides the gorgeous ocean/beach.  I have this pic…

….and this one….

I took the first pic, because, yes, both her and the water ARE that beautiful; I took the second pic because I’d never seen two grown men walking down the beach with tube floaters, one of which was pink and around the man’s waist.  We wanted to get some pics of the amazing Green Monkeys of Barbados, but we only saw them once and we didn’t have any sort of camera with us.  Every time we made the journey over to where we’d seen them, you’d swear it was an abandoned lot.  They must’ve been at the beach.

Anyway, after many days of “chillin’ out, maxin, relaxin all cool”, Jacelyn thought she’d like to spend her last hours of freedom with sore muscles from the longest, most-difficult hike on the island: The Boiling Lake Hike.  It’s an 8-mile walk, the initial hour of which Virtual Dominica describes as climbing “steeply uphill to about 2,500ft, then a steady SE climb along the ridge to the top (3,168ft) where’s there’s a clearing and a good point to stop and rest. It can provide spectacular 360° views… or it can be cold, misty and miserable.”  On our hike, we got both!  On the way there we were able to take this video (which, by the way, represents the first time I’ve posted video on our blog!):

….and on the way home, the same peak looked like this:

Between shooting those two videos, we hiked through one of the coolest terrains we’ve ever seen.  Because Dom is essentially still actively volcanic, there are hot springs everywhere and, if you’re out in the ocean, the air bubbles that come up are called champagne.  Well, when those vents are big enough, and happen to occur where water pools up, you get hot springs; and when the pool and the vents are even bigger, you get the second largest boiling lake in the world.  It is right around 200 ft across, over 200 ft. deep, and boils at a temp of right around 200 F.  Virtual Dominica says, “It is believed that the Lake is actually a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from the molten lava below, rather than a volcanic crater. The natural basin of the Boiling Lake collects the rainfall from the surrounding hills and from two small streams which empty into the lake. The water seeps through the porous bottom to the hot lava below where it is trapped and heated to boiling point. “

To get to Boiling Lake, you must first pass through The Valley of Desolation, so named because, as a result of all the sulfur and heat, very few things can live near the vents.  As you watch the next video, I encourage you to light some matches and sniff a bunch of hard-boiled eggs.

(Jia Lin is the name our Chinese friends gave her when we lived there)  Last up for videos is the clip of the actual Boiling Lake.  Off to the left in the video, you can actually see the hot water boiling up.  You can also hear the words slurring and sort of trailing off, since we were exhausted and only half-way through the hike.

Well, that’s all for now, peeps!  We’re back into the swing of things, so I should be able to blog once a week (or so).  For all the pics and vids from our hike, our move, and other various aspects of our time here, visit our ever-present, always-available photo album by clicking HERE and scrolling down.  Till later:

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Pineapples and Tony Danza

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Welcome, all!  Glad to have you.  Do you remember when I told you our apartment had been over-run by ants (HERE)?  Well, they’ve not really been a problem for us since I discovered a miraculous piece of chalk, which, upon retrieving from the kitchen, I found to be an accurate description.

I was referred to the M.I.C., as I call it, by the clerk at Jame’s Store, the all-purpose shop I’d mentioned in the past (think Jennifer Aniston speakers).  The clerk said that it worked wonders and was only $1, so, I tried it.  The stuff really does work wonderfully!  I simply lined the windows and cracks with it (stopping only to trace a nice, ant-free hopscotch grid in our tiled floor) and poof, the ants stopped coming!  Every once in a while I see a stray ant walking around the apartment.  I think he’s a scout, sent out to check if we’re still “chalkin’ it up”, as he put it when I demanded that he identify himself.

So, the chalk was a success, except for two details.  First, in my efforts to write a truthful, factual blog, I did some research on M.I.C. tonight.  Crap.  Apparently, as much I love this stuff, the EPA hates it more.  Click HERE for the scathing expose’.  I was reading it out loud to Jacelyn while she was studying and when I read the part about “several children have been hospitalized after eating insecticide chalk”, I said, “Well, this doesn’t pertain because we’re not eating it.”  Without looking up from her diagram of the course of the corticospinal tract through the brainstem, she quietly replied, “Well, I’m gonna stop eating it now.” (She IS truly the funny one in the relationship).  For more information on deltamethrin, M.I.C.’s main homicidal ingredient, click HERE.

That was the first issue.  The second problem with it is that it does not in ANY way deter the inundation of what the locals call “water bugs”.  When searching Google for some pics of what they look like, I was surprised to find only pics like this:

Which makes me think that Google doesn’t know what it’s talking about, since in OUR neck o’ the woods, they look like this:

Now, before you judge me, picture 40 of them appearing on your counter every few hours or so.  I can’t seem to find where they’re coming from, but I just KNOW they’re somehow in league with the ants, like an underground, Davidson Apartment Time Share.  (For more pics of what Google mistakenly calls a water bug, click HERE)

Last Saturday night, we had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil service in Portsmouth and it was a really great experience.  There were two people getting baptized and, when they reached that portion of the night, they proceeded out the side door.  Since a bunch of people were getting up to watch, we figured we would, too.  It was awesome.  Just outside the door, they had filled a kiddie pool with water! (No, not like this.  More like this, only blue.)  The people would kneel in the water and they’d dump huge pitchers of water all over them (a double blessing: baptism AND getting cooled off from the heat of the night).  “I baptize you in the name of the Father”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER…”…and of the Son…”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER…”…and of the Holy Spirit!”…HUGE PITCHER OF WATER.  It was cool because one of them was a med student and one was a local guy and you don’t see many med students at the local church, mostly because of the length of the service; in fact, other than that midnight service, Jacelyn’s the only “whitey” in the place. (My tan has gotten dark enough that I consider myself to be “one of the natives”, if you will)

We were able to belt out some of the old school hymns, my favorite being “Because He Lives”.  One of the coolest parts of the yearly Easter Vigil is when you enter the darkened church with only your candles lit.  You sit in relative darkness as they go through 7 large chunks of Scripture, tracing the course of salvation history.  When the readings finally reach the “Glory to God in the highest”, all the lights come on and you just belt it out! SO fun.  The only hiccup was that, much like I didn’t know we had to bring our own palms for Palm Sunday, I was unaware that we had to bring our own candles for the Easter Vigil.  So, while most sat in relative darkness, we sat in complete darkness. (But, guess which un-rhythmic white couple was able to experience the brightness of the light ever more so because of the ignorance and absentmindedness of the husband???)

All said and done, it was a fun experience.  It was a bit harder on Jacelyn, since she’s been studying for tests for two weeks, now……………………….and it started at 10pm……………………………….and went for 4 HOURS!  However, it was worth all 240 minutes of it!  Speaking of Jacelyn, for those of you unfamiliar with medical school finals, here’s what she’s been attempting to do in the last 4 days–and what she’ll continue trying to do for the next 2; reviewing 7 weeks worth of neurology, 2 weeks of gastrointestinal physiology, 2 weeks of renal physiology, 2 1/2 weeks of reproductive physiology, 3 days about skin, anatomy of the head, neck, and abdomen, and a healthy smattering of the biochemistry of metabolism. (And she’s too humble to admit it, but she’s also discovered cures for bunions, road rage, and deja vu)

Hey, you know those big, tall pineapple trees you always see in the pictures?  The ones with pineapples growing off of them in bunches?  Yeah, I thought I knew of them, too.  In fact, I’d have bet money that they grew on big trees.  That is, until we were driving past a field the other day and our taxi driver, Kenny, said, “Over there is a pineapple field.”  And I said, “You mean that grove of tall trees on the other side of the field?”  And he said, “What? No.  The FIELD right there.”  So I took this picture of where pineapples grow:

Apparently, they grow low.  So, in my head, I pictured them growing like a potato does, all buried in the ground, and some strong-armed farmer (or farmess) comes along and plucks them from the dirt.  Turns out, not only was I wrong about them growing in trees (don’t pretend you didn’t think the same thing), I was also wrong about them growing in the ground.  They grow on TOP of those little tufts of plant you see there.  Like so:

You may have heard that I’m currently writing a curriculum for youth ministry, hoping to get it published somewhere down the road and have some small royalties trickling in while we’re on the mission field.  One of the aspects of the curriculum is that I record myself teaching each lesson, so that a rural parish could use the curriculum, even if they didn’t have a youth minister, and they’d have an audio “hint” as to how you could possibly teach the lesson.  With that in mind, I asked my mum for a recording mic for Christmas.  She was wonderful enough to have bought me this and it has helped the sound quality tremendously.

As I’ve been recording these last few months, I’ve been thinking about all the noise pollution that goes on while I’m doing so.  Not only is there the sound of the computer fan running, there’s the symphony of sounds from outside (incessant dog barking, cows mooing, this weird bird cooing, the goats chatting, and the weed-whacking ninjas).  Then I saw an article on the Quietest Place On Earth, which just happens to be located in Minneapolis and it all got me thinking.  How can I get rid of all that ambient noise, without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars? (Because that’s how much it would cost to pay off all the animals and their owners so that they’d SHUT UP!)  So, in lieu of that investment, I came up with this:


A combination of couch cushions, pillows, and blankets gets me a pretty good lack of background noise.  It feels so rugged and real to switch off all fans and AC, hunker down in the stifling heat under the comforter, and record these sessions, knowing that not only is the Lord watching over me, so is Jacelyn’s epic blanket which features David Bowie dressed as Dorothy and Mona from Who’s The Boss as Glinda.  Mmmmmm, comfy.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Noggin On Heaven’s Door

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Today’s blog is all about the cranium, ladies and gentlemens, and since Jacelyn’s the one with the most knowledge on the subject (and also has the prettiest one ever made), she will providing the bulk of the info today.  (As usual, all of Jacelyn’s words will be in italics, so as not to confuse her brilliance with my lunacy.)

Brand of sunglasses does not matter!

“Though it is shown to be important for us to protect our eyes from UV damage by wearing sunglasses (repeated UV exposure can degrade the retina), don’t fall for advertisements that claim that their brand of sunglasses is better!  High tech experiments have been done in state-of-the art research labs that demonstrate that sunglasses costing $2 filter out the exact same amount of UV rays as those costing over $2000.”

Now that Jacelyn has saved us thousands of dollars, let’s move on to fashion.  Most of you know that Jacelyn always dresses cleanly and appropriately, with a hint of Disney Princess flair; what you may not know is that she also has a small gangsta thug streak about her.  That is why I wasn’t at all surprised when she burst through the door, announced that she’d found a head covering she wanted, and showed me a picture of the largest trucker hat EVER:

I especially love the bill on the front.  Speaking of bills, you’ll be receiving a letter soon, asking for the necessary funds to buy a matching set. (Just pray about it)  Next up we’ll take on the Book of James as we try to tame this one:

(While I dry heave, Jacelyn will expl…….) This condition is called “Hairy Tongue” and it definitely looks like a hairy tongue, but it is actually overgrown filiform papillae, which are projections on our tongue.  They don’t contain any taste buds and are mostly present to catch and scrape food for us.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t have time to give any more details than that–my final is in two weeks 🙂

Phew, I’m back. Sorry about that.  It’s just that every time I look at it, my stom…..

…read THIS while I get some Sprite and chicken nood……….

Okay, I’m back.  I hope you enjoyed the trip through head and eye protection and sick and twisted tongue issues as much as eye did. (pun)(I always feel the need to point out puns.  They’re funny enough as it is, but when you point them out, I think it makes the punnier) (pun).  All last week, I was given the amazing privilege of speaking at a different church in our deanery every night as a part of a youth Lenten retreat.  The week culminated on Saturday at a youth rally for the whole island, where over 800 youth attended!  I truly couldn’t believe that I used to be concerned about whether or not I’d get to do any ministry during our time here (silly Nic).  The event on Saturday began at 10am with a processional through a town called Mahaut (pronounced MUH-ho).  Maybe you’ve been on a processional before, but I hadn’t.

I had no clue what was going on as we all gathered in the middle of The Road, halfway between Portsmouth and Roseau.  Soon after we gathered, live worship music started blaring from a pickup truck stacked high with huge speakers and the 800+ youth and leaders started singing and walking through the streets of town.  This is a picture of the beginning of our walk:

Then we began climbing a hill to a playing field at the top, where the rally was held.  Here’s us on the way up:

…and up…

(Feel free to play “Where’s Whitey”) I just couldn’t believe I was able to be a part of it!  And, lest I forget WHERE I was, in the middle of the rally, while we were taking time to pray about how the Bible is “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”, a massive, perfect rooster walked by.  Classic Dom.

Then, to top the weekend off perfectly, we attended the Palm Sunday  service in Portsmouth, which began with…..yes, you guessed it…..a processional!!!!  Beginning at 7am, we marched through the quiet streets of our little town, singing the old school songs like “Lift Jesus Higher” (yes, in case you were wondering, there WERE multiple roosters singing with us).  It was great because we sang and sang and kept singing as we walked in the front doors of the church and our singing became the processional hymn.  It was beautiful.  Thank you all for tuning in!

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next processional…

Sebastian, Zero: Spearfisher, Seven

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Howdy, everybody!  Last week was perrrty busy and I get to speak at a retreat every night this week; so this blog will be short.  Well, shorter than the usual novel I write for you all.

First, I make it a policy to alway always have a few binder clips of all sizes with me.  Always.  You’d be amazed at how many random things you can use them for.  I initially became enamored with them a few years back when I was hanging Christmas lights on our house and garage in Duluth.  The cheap plastic clips that came with lights only held the lights up long enough for me to get the cheap plastic replacement clip ready in my hand; so, in desperation, I went in the house and grabbed a container of teensy, silver binder clips and headed up to the roof.  Those beautiful things lasted me for three years!  So, you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon a brilliant new use for a large binder clip.  You know ear buds, those little earphones that, no matter what you do to prevent it, come out of your pocket/backpack/purse in a tangled ball, looking like what the celts were going for with their infinity knots?  Well, brace…………..your……………………..self……………………:

Yes.  It works.  It’s amazing.  I’m brilliant (in the way I find stuff online that people have already made available and photoshop in my gorgeous thumbs)  You can thank me in whatever way your culture repays genius.

About a month ago, I noticed that there was a lack of what we would call Sugar In The Raw at any of the stores.  Usually, there small, zip-lock-type bags of that “brown sugar” everywhere on the island.  Then, even at our IGA in town, there was no longer any white sugar, either.  Then, disaster struck.  Jacelyn approached the stand that she normally gets fresh juice from and saw this:

You know how I always say “…when you pray…”?  Well, you should start NOW, because, apart from the statements of The Oracle and the sweltering heat, the juice is the number one enjoyment of the Dynamic Davidson Duo on Dominica.  Thank God there wasn’t a paper shortage at the same time, or we’d have had no clue why the shack was closed.

While talking with some folks about the amount of beach on the island, I once made the offhand statement that practically the whole coast was on the ocean, which those who were present were quick to point out the utter stupidity of, which I who was present was quick to throw a shoe and walk away, sobbing.  Well, however I should have said it, there are definite benefits to having the ocean so close, fresh seafood being on top of the list.  Also, you probably know that every year on my birthday, the ONE place I want to go is Red Lobster.  It’s like my Neverland (Peter Pan, not Michael Jackson), what with all the melted butter, constant birthdays, Coke refills, and quirky “I’m gonna act like your best friend” servers.  Well, two weeks ago, my dream collided with this 100% coastal island.  I was at home, just thinking of sacrificial and impacting things to do for each of our readers (your home-knit Rasta hat is in the mail), when there was a knock at the door and a local guy, named Randell, was standing there with 2 lbs of lobster and 2 lbs of small fish (red fish and the like)!  For 30 ec ($11), it was ALL mine.  Well, brace yourself and Fisherman’s Feast ………….your…………………………eyes:

The fish are already gutted and waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.  After 3 days on the counter, I moved them to the patio (because of the counterspace) until I figure out how I wanna cook ’em.  As for the lobsters, I knew to boil them.  I got our cast iron pot filled and boiling, added some Old Bay seasonin’, dropped the 4 smallest in, and shrieked like an alien (because, being dead, they couldn’t do it, and I NEED that sense of realism).  They tasted good.

One of the things I love about living in other cultures is seeing the different ways in which the cleaning staff do their work.  Now, just calm down, before you judge me.  I NEED to have a cleaning crew if I’m going to be out interviewing servants all the time.  But seriously, most of the student housing in our area has weekly housekeeping included in the rent.  In China, we had a housekeeper, but it truly was in order to help one more person have gainful employment; and, to be fair, their standards of “clean” were far different than ours, which meant I would usually re-do all the dishes after she left. (One time, I opened a hard-t0-reach cupboard and found all the dirty dishes from earlier in the day stashed up there)  Anyway, back to Dominica.  I’ve grown to love our cleaning ladies, Zephrina and Media.  Usually, every time they come to our apartment, they sweep, and I cook them grilled cheese and make hot tea or coffee for them.  Who’s serving who, I ask you?  I can just see Zephrina getting home and her children asking her, “How was the chef today, mommy?”  Then I see Zephrina saying, “It was good.  The bread was stale.  I’m thinking of pushing for an appetizer next week, too!”   Back to the opening sentence of this paragraph, I have loved seeing the different ways of doing things since we’ve been here.  For instance, my mum taught me to make a bed so it looked like this…

…because she happened to work at a hotel at the time.  Jacelyn’s mom taught her to make a bed so it looked like this…

…because she loves herself some pillows!  And, Zephrina and Media’s mums taught them to make a bed so it looks like this…

…because Dominica invented the world-famous game “Where’s the Topsheet”.  Can you find it?  Give you a hint, I call it “The Postage Stamp”.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is folded up into a teensy square at the foot of the bed, under the comforter.  The first time they made our bed, I looked through the whole apartment to find that sheet!  I thought I’d forgotten to put it on the bed or something.  Nothing wrong with this method; it just adds a Scavenger Hunt aspect to going to sleep at night.  I am also thinking of getting those two an origami DVD for Christmas, given their natural talent at folding things.

Lastly, I know I’ve mentioned my li’l sister, Smeaphie, a lot, but I had to include one more classic picture of her.  Before leaving to come to Dom, Jacelyn got a perm, and Smeaphie and my niece, Brooklyn, decided to get one, too.  I got to spend the three hours at the salon with her and, in a beautiful moment, I snapped this photo:

The combination of curlers, Ugz’s, and random antelope on her smock make for a self-narrating photograph, don’t you think?  (The towel in her lap is for the bits of raw fish that she keeps in her pocket “for snacky timeseses”, as she calls it)

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

Johnny, Jennifer, and Amnesia

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So, I’ve spent the last two days sitting in what is known as “The Fishbowl”, a large study room filled with tables and a silence fostered by something which my instructor at flight school called “The Pucker Factor” and which is caused mainly by the fear of imminent danger.  (There is far more fear in this one room on a daily basis than in my entire time in flight training.)  Jacelyn has her second major exam tomorrow morning and has been planted firmly in the same chair for days.  The Fishbowl gets its name from the two huge banks of windows found on either side of the room, but I also think it has a lot to do with the nearly complete lack of fresh air.  I took the following picture of The Fishbowl two minutes ago.

It has looked exactly the same for days. Same people, same hunched posture, same look of profound confusion.  And then there’s me, alternately blogging and trying desperately to beat my mom at Scrabble online.  One of these folks is definitely NOT like the other.

When we lived in China, it was always uplifting to see the various ways they would either “tweak” the English language in their advertising (we called it “Chinglish”) and how they would blatantly take things from the American market to use as their own(Red Berry vs. Black Berry).  Well, I’d missed that regular dose of hilarity, until I walked into James’ Store the other day.  Jame’s Store is a general store of sorts, where you can basically get what you need for your household in some form or another, most of it straight from good ol’ Chinaland.  While walking the aisles, I happened upon this box of computer speakers:

Yes, in case you’re wondering, that IS Jennifer Aniston.  No, I don’t think she knows that her image is being used to market cheap, immediately broken computer speakers.  Yes, I bought four boxes of the green because the marketing ploy worked.  No.  Just no.

Do you remember Phil and Sandra, the happy goat couple who lives out behind our house?  Well, they recently reached a milestone in their relationship: they had two kids! Oh, gosh, we were so happy for them.  We actually walked past them minutes after they’d been born! (I know this because I stepped on the still-soupy afterbirth)  So, they asked if we’d make their kids famous by posting them on our world wide web.  We did.

Twice.

Apparently, in the goat world, it is good parenting to lie directly on top of the newborn, thereby teaching them to NEVER roam.  The baby goat on the left, a boy, they named Chester, “After Phil’s uncle.  He was  a sheep, but we loved him, anyway”, said Sandra.  The little girl kid on the right, they named Scram.  “I don’t know what we were thinking”, said Phil, “We’re gonna change it.”  I’ll keep you posted.

As I mentioned in our last blog, our buddy Johnny came to visit us for 9 days.  We saw many sites, ate many unique foods, and in lieu of forgetting the sunscreen, instead applied 9 bottles of Aloe.  One highlight of the trip was when he and I attended an hour-long class with Jacelyn one morning “about measuring clearance values to measure kidney function”.  Jacelyn seemed to like it, but I almost fell asleep just typing that quote from her on what the class was about.  Here’s a pic from that class.

Johnny did really well during the class;  he kept his eyes on the screens, nodding every once in a while for effect.  I was good for the first 60 seconds.  Two minutes in, I was desperately trying to figure out what food that girl had brought.  I took this picture 5 minutes in, after which I remember nothing.  We did plenty of lying around and reading.  Johnny napped quite often, at which point I’d get out the camera.  Isn’t this a great pic, which I’ve NOT asked permission to post?

Like little angels, Johnny wrapped in a Wizard of Oz blankie and Burt, snuggle between his toy and his boy toy.  However, there WERE some low points.  Jacelyn gets pretty stressed sometimes and one night, while we were having fun posing with some souvenirs Johnny was buying…

…one of us said something to contradict her in some way and….well……

Sadly, that pic of Johnny and Burt really IS just his head.  She showed me mercy because she needs someone to continue blogging and cooking for her.

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

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